Most Common Skiing Injuries and How to Avoid These!

avoid ski injuries

Winter is here! You know what that means? The wind will be tad strong and the temperatures will be slightly colder and above all, winter means more snow. And more snow means skiing and snowboarding. This season often brightens the eyes of many skiers and snowboarders. One short drive and you can end up in mountain heaven packed with fresh snow. It’s the feeling of not being able to control your body, the awe of having such a beautiful view of the spectacular landscape; everything seems to feel just perfect.

Tens of thousands of skiers and snowboarders enjoy snow sports every year, however only a few prepare for the physical demands that these extreme sports place on the body. No doubt skiing and snowboarding are perfect for all ages of fun, but don’t let the fluffy snow and breathtaking mountains distract you from the dangers that these sports can have. The sport comes with a certain amount of risk, and the truth is injuries can happen to even the professional skiers. Although they are considered safe sports, unexpected events may occur with improper preparation, varies snow conditions or poor judgment.

But you can minimize that risk. Whether you’re preparing for your first time on the mountain or you’ve been skiing for quite some time now, here are some of the most common skiing injuries to keep an eye out for and how to avoid them.

Knee Ligament Injuries

knee-ligament-injuries-skiing

Skiers often hurt their knees, but shoulders and even thumbs could also be suffered in a tumble which is bad. An MCL (Medical Collateral Ligament) sprain or tear is the most common knee injury that is caused by a twist in the knee. The MCL is damaged when force is applied to the side of the knee while it’s been bent. This injury tends to occur when you’re snow plowing down a mountain and you fall over without changing your body position. It can also be injured if you fall over and your knee falls inwards. You will experience pain on the inside of the joint, and swelling and bruising will invariably follow.

How to Avoid?

The best thing you can do to avoid the injury is to keep cautious of the sharp turns and to totally respect your limits. Take some lessons your first time out and master the level you’re at before taking on the mountains. Jumping up before you’re ready is risky business for both you and the other skiers. Additionally, when the slope gets icy, it’s harder to make your edges hold. If the conditions are poor, it’s best to stay put rather than hitting the slopes. Always listen to your body because your body begins to lose its ability to respond the way it usually does when you get tired. Wrap things up when it starts to get dark because you could lose visibility.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Rupture

acl-rupture-skiing

Skiers are particularly susceptible to these types of strains when landing jumps, skiing moguls or during twisting falls. Most ACL injuries in skiing occur when the skier is in the back seat and catches an inside edge, causing the knee to twist beyond its normal range of motion. You’d hear an audible “pop” sound at the moment of impact immediately followed by brief, acute pain. Swelling, pain, and instability of the knee are common symptoms of ACL injury. You will also experience difficulty supporting your weight while standing. It might take a few weeks before your knee returns to its normal recognizable size and depending upon the condition, the knee may also require surgery.

How to Avoid?

Do conditioning and strengthening exercises of the quadriceps and hamstring before the ski season starts. This is your best protection against an ACL injury. Go easy on your skiing at the end of the day, when you are typically fatigued. Avoid difficult trails, big air, lots of moguls or speed skiing on ice. The main problem associated with an ACL tear is instability, so the best way to tackle that is by doing regular exercises for the hamstrings, hip, back, shoulder because the more you stretch, the less likely you are to snap. Also, check your bindings for release tension; do not set them too tight.

Skier’s Thumb

skiers-thumb

This injury occurs when a skier falls with a pole in their hand and the pole applies force across the joint, thereby putting the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) under strain. The pole snatches in the snow and levers into the inside of the thumb. Skier’s thumb accounts for a significant number of skiing injuries. In critical cases, with complete tearing of the ligament, this injury must be surgically repaired. Depending on the force applied, the ligament may tear completely or partially. If it’s partially torn, you’ll feel tenderness in the joint area, however, if has completely torn, the joint can be opened up markedly and recovery may take longer than usual.

How to Avoid?

Skiers should be advised to consciously discard the ski pole during all falls. Falling onto an outstretched hand while skiing without the ski pole in hand should be able to minimize the chance of injury. You should use poles with finger-groove grips without any restraining devices such as a wrist strap or closed grip. Also, thumb stabilizers help protect the thumb ligaments without restricting range of motion. However, acute partial rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament can be treated effectively with 4 weeks of immobilization in a special cast.

Head and Spinal Injuries

Although serious head injuries are quite rare in skiing – spinal and head injuries account for less than 10% of skiing injuries – they are still important to keep an eye out for. They are usually caused by collision into trees, lift towers, rocks, and chair lift incidents. They also tend to be more frequent in skiers who strive for speed because speed is the predominant factor is head and spinal injuries. If a head injury occurs, you’ll see signs of drowsiness, weakness in the arm or legs, confusion or persistent vomiting.

How to Avoid?

Research on helmets tends to be mixed but it’s highly recommended for intermediate skiers at the very least. On fall or one bump, could be just enough to start a concussion. Helmets can come in quite handy during low-velocity collisions, especially with adults, however, at higher velocities they are not so effective, as the energy and trauma are often transmitted to the spine, where injuries are just as catastrophic. This is particularly true in children who don’t have the musculature to support the weight of a helmet and the strain on the neck becomes too severe.

Frostbite

frosbite-skiingFrostbite is the most common type of freezing injury which is defined as the freezing and crystallizing of fluids in the interstitial and cellular spaces as a consequence of prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. It’s caused by a defensive mechanism developed by the body to protect the vital organs of the body where circulation to the extremities like hand, toes, nose, ears, etc. are shut down or reduced to keep the core of the body warm. Your chances of frostbite get much worse if your skin is exposed or wet. The associated decrease in blood flow does not deliver sufficient heat to the tissue to prevent the formation of ice crystals.

How to Avoid?

The best way to prevent frostbite is to stay dry and warm in the first place. A few simple interventions can help you not end up with frostbite. First, use warm clothes to maintain your core temperature – wear a hat to prevent thermal loss from your head, wear pants specifically designed for skiing, which will keep the snow off your skin, and make sure you have sturdy, dry footwear to keep your feet protected. Your base layers on both your upper and lower body should be made of moisture-wicking fabric, and the mid-layer should be made from fleece or wool to keep you warm. You’d also want a jacket that is waterproof to keep the snow off, but also breathable so your sweat can escape. Also use a face mask to keep your face warm and protected.

As fun as skiing is, nobody likes to get hurt. One injury can put you out for months. Taking a few precautions can be all you need to prevent any injuries when speeding down the slopes. Instruction prior to getting on the slopes is important in preventing injuries. Plus appropriate equipment is critical to being safe. At the same time, poorly functioning or improperly adjusted equipment is a frequent case of injuries. The use of protective equipment has been associated with significant decrease in the rate of skiing injuries. So it’s advisable you do the same.

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